K-State Gardens offer natural respite from campus limestone

The Gardens at Kansas State University were established early in the university's history. Anyone from college students to Manhattan residents alike are able to visit University Gardens. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

The Gardens at Kansas State University sit quietly on the edge of campus, decorated with colorful flowers and open dawn to dusk in the spring and summer for students, faculty and the public.

“It’s a nice empty area to have around to distract us from the dull, empty void that is our lives,” said Bryce Freeman, junior in mechanical engineering.

The K-State Gardens, located on Denison Avenue, are composed of three specialty gardens and four plant collections that offer a diverse mix of many plants and flowers. According to the K-State Gardens’s website, they were established as a “learning lab and as an educational resource” for students and for the visiting public.

The Gardens will eventually cover 19 acres and is designed to show the hardscape as well as the aesthetic of plants in a different setting. It is developed and maintained by the Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources. Students from other departments, such as interior design and engineering, will have a role in development.

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(Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

The Gardens date back to 1871, according to the history webpage. In the early years, many samples of plants and trees were given to K-State for the arboretum which contained over 4,000 samples at its peak, representing 700 different species.

Decades later, the garden, arboretum and the plants greatly reduced as campus continued to develop and build. In 1927, professor Leon Reed Quinlan established a rose garden, but it wasn’t until 1993 that plans for a revamp of the Gardens started.

The first director of the Gardens, Scott McElwain, was hired in 1997 and K-State developed gorgeous and refined gardens.

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(Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Today, the Gardens offer a variety of events such as guided tours, weddings and receptions — and can be a place to take your date.

“I once took my girlfriend on a date there and it was lovely,” Jacob Edelman-Dolan, senior in theater, said. “We had a wonderful time walking through the flowers, enjoying the fountain and sitting on the benches. It’s a beautiful place that I think more folks on campus should experience.”

Other students enjoy it for other reasons, such as providing a contrast to the other parts of campus.

“I thought it was a beautiful area,” alumnus Luke Hoerter said. “And it is a great addition to the much more urban look of the campus.”

On Oct. 25, the Third Annual Planting a Seed to Grow the Gardens will be hosted at the Alumni Center from 6 to 10 p.m.